Two decades after Dale Earnhardt’s only start in the Rolex 24, No. 3 Corvette wins in GTLM

Chevrolet Racing

Dale Earnhardt Sr. made only one start in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on Feb. 3-4 2001, but it is one of the most memorable debuts in the storied history of this race. Three days before the 20th anniversary of Earnhardt’s start in a No. 3 Corvette, it was the No. 3 Corvette in Victory Lane with Jordan Taylor behind the wheel Sunday when the checkers waved.

After 23 years as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup series, Earnhardt had an opportunity to race in a four-driver team alongside his son Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was coming off a rookie season in Cup.

In the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette, the Earnhardts finished second in class and fourth overall in the 2001 Rolex 24.

While Dale Earnhardt failed to score a win in the twice-around-the-clock classic that year, he had numerous other victories on this track, including an elusive Daytona 500 win in 1998 and multiple wins in qualification races, the Busch series and IROC competition on these hallowed grounds.

Two weeks after his Rolex 24 debut, Earnhardt lost his life on the last lap of the Daytona 500 as the team he owned finished first and second with Dale Jr. pushing Michael Waltrip to the finish line.

Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Poses With Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. & Jr. pose together at the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona They finished second in the GTS class. (ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)

Dale Jr. hung up his driver’s suit in 2017 and moved into the NBC Sports broadcast booth. He was one of the lead analysts in the 2021 Rolex 24 coverage.

It did not go unnoticed just how strong Corvette Racing was for the entire race.

And according to Taylor, the car may have had an assist from the late Earnhardt.

“I think everyone’s a fan of Dale Sr. and Dale Jr.,” Taylor said after winning his third Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. “When I joined Corvette in 2012, I was in the No. 3 car. Obviously the No. 3 is so symbolic and so historic. Especially here at Daytona it is super special. Dale Sr. had unbelievable success here at Daytona.

“Today, we were making our passes on the high banks, so maybe we had a little bit of Dale Sr. in the car with us.”

Taylor is aware of how special racing families are.

As Taylor and co-driver Nicky Catsburg did their media availability from the garage instead of the Media Center – an action necessitated by the fact that Corvette Racing teammate Antonio Garcia tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier that morning – thoughts of his father, Wayne Taylor, were in the front of his mind.

Minutes earlier, Wayne Taylor Racing secured their third consecutive Rolex 24 overall win.

For complete results of the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, click here.

24 Hours of Daytona X
The No. 3 Corvette GTS driven by Dale Earnhardt Sr. finished fourth overall in the 2001 Rolex 24. (Jonathan Ferrey/ALLSPORT via Getty Images)

Texas starting lineup: Felix Rosenqvist back on pole; Scott Dixon qualifies second


FORT WORTH, Texas — For the second consecutive year, Felix Rosenqvist will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren driver is hoping the third time will be the charm at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has run extremely well but has only a career-best 12th in five starts.

“We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Let’s try to wrap it up (Sunday).”

In 2020, Rosenqvist was competing for a podium when he crashed with 10 laps remaining at Texas.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for speeds from Saturday’s time trials

INDYCAR AT TEXASSchedule, start times, how to watch on NBC, Peacock

Last year, he started first on an oval for the first time in his career but finished 21st because of a broken halfshaft.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and naturally, I’ve always been OK here,” Rosenqvist said. “It was the first oval that made sense to me. Every year I’m building on that. But looking at the results, they don’t represent the speed I normally have.

“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I hope tomorrow is going to go a bit better and some luck our way would be nice. It’s been feeling super good. Arrow McLaren has been mega every session, so just keep it rolling.”

Arrow McLaren qualified all three of its Chevrolets in the top five, building on a second for Pato O’Ward and fourth for Alexander Rossi in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The March 5 season opener was a disappointing start for Rosenqvist who was squeezed into the wall by Scott Dixon on the first lap.

Dixon, a five-time winner at Texas, will start second Sunday, followed by Rossi and Josef Newgarden. O’Ward will start fifth alongside Takuma Sato, who will start on the outside of the third row in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

During nearly four hours of practice and qualifying (including a special high-line session), Saturday’s lone incident involved Conor Daly.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver spun three times but stayed off the wall and in the frontstretch grass. Aside from a front wing change and new tires, there was no damage to his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet during the incident midway through the 30-minute session in which drivers were limited to the high line.

“I hadn’t really had a moment before, but it snapped really aggressively,” Daly told NBC Sports after final practice. “Not ideal, but I do know my way around correcting a spin it seems like. I drove NASCAR last weekend and that seemed to help a little bit. I drove in the dirt a lot in USAC Midgets and seemed to be able to save something but not ideal or what we wanted to have happen.”

Daly will start 25th of 28 cars alongside teammate Rinus VeeKay in Row 13. Carpenter qualified 18th.

“Our three of our cars were clearly looking for something. Mechanical grip is for sure what we need. Qualifying we actually expected to be a lot better, but we found an issue there. We’ll see what happens. This race can change a lot. I’m confident in the team to hopefully figure some things out for tomorrow.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 220.264 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 219.972


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Chevy, 219.960
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 219.801


5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 219.619
6. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 219.508


7. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 219.480
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.355


9. (18) David Malukas, Dallara-Honda, 219.256
10. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 219.184


11. (28) Romain Grosjean, Dallara-Honda, 219.165
12. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Dallara-Honda, 219.146

ROW 7 

13. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Dallara-Chevy, 219.100
14. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Chevy, 218.892


15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 218.765
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 218.698


17. (77) Callum Ilott, Dallara-Chevy, 218.427
18. (33) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 218.375

ROW 10

19. (78) Agustin Canapino, Dallara-Chevy, 218.367
20. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Dallara-Honda, 218.227

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 218.196
22. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 218.103

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Dallara-Honda, 217.676
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 217.611

ROW 13

25. (20) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 217.457
26. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.880

ROW 14

27. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Dallara-Honda, 216.210
28. (30) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 216.103